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U.S. Justice Department says Arizona Sheriff Arpaio violated civil rights laws

In a 22 page report, the U.S. Justice Department has accused Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio with violating the civil rights of Latinos under his jurisdiction.

“We notified MCSO of our formal investigation in March 2009. I During our investigation, aided by four leading police practice experts, one jail expert, and an expert on statistical analysis, we reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documentary evidence; toured MCSO’sjails; and interviewed over 400 individuals, including approximately 150 former and current MCSO jail inmates, and more than 75 former and current MCSO personnel, including the Sheriff, the Chief of Enforcement, the Chief of Patrol, the Administrative Investigative Commander, the Sergeant heading MCSO’s Criminal Employment Squad, and the Lieutenant heading MCSO’s Human Smuggling Unit,” the report stated.

The report goes on to say that “Based upon our extensive investigation, we find reasonable cause to believe that MCSO engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. Specifically, we find that MCSO, through the actions of its deputies, supervisory staff, and command staff, engages in racial profiling of Latinos; unlawfully stops, detains, and arrests Latinos; and unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize MCSO’s policies or practices, all in violation of Section 14141. MCSO’s discriminatory police conduct additionally violates Title VI and its implementing regulations.

We also find reasonable cause to believe that MCSO operates its jails in a manner that discriminates against its limited English proficient (“LEP”) Latino inmates. Specifically, we find that MCSO, through the actions of its deputies, detention officers, supervisory staff, and command staff, routinely punishes Latino LEP inmates for failing to understand commands given in English and denies them critical services provided to the other inmates, all in violation of Title VI and its implementing regulations.”

The Justice Department said Thursday that it will work with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office to reform their policies.

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